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Bermuda’s beauty spots need some TLC

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Bermuda is another world. We live within a landscape and are fortunate to reside in such a tranquil location, with clean air and blue skies — and we take it all for granted.

As I drive around the island, I become disturbed at what I see on our roads, Railway Trail and tourist spots.

In many areas our roads are ridden with weeds. If we gave them botanical names, we could perhaps fool the viewer into thinking we had created a new form of roadside planting.

Footpaths, in particular those which are a combination of grass and/or paving stones (which I believe is not aesthetic or functional, especially when the grass and weed is not mown as required), are impractical.

The Railway Trail is often used for dumping as well as being overgrown, and thus the peace, quiet and pleasure of walking along the paths is lost.

The Railway Trail should be a major feature for tourist activity. This is an ideal area for the Department of Conservation Services to show their expertise in developing areas of endemics and naturalised plantings — much more advantageous than dictating to the homeowner on what they should and should not plant — while increasing the quantities of endemics and naturalised plants.

Just think, the money being spent on so-called maintenance could be incorporated into an actual planting and continuing maintenance programme which would enhance the trails for all who meander along their length.

The Arboretum is another neglected area, with little of interest or enticement to tourists or locals — and that is its downfall. On a recent visit I noticed signs for rest stations on a fitness trail, but no labels identifying common and botanical names of trees.

The Arboretum is such a great resource and should be the location for all trees grown in Bermuda, both from a point of interest and on an educational level.

The Botanical Gardens is, in reality, a park. Again, one must question the level of expertise in the design and maintenance programmes as, on my visit, the beds had not been weeded and many plants looked like they had reached their expiry date.

These two areas should be “must-sees” on tourist itineraries but such is lacking, which simply reduces an important part of the Bermuda product.

St George's is quintessentially quaint and quirky without making any statement, with a dominant landscape to soften and enhance the road leading into the town centre.

Even when using containerised plants to make a bold statement, they should at least look vibrant and enhance their location.

The Royal Naval Dockyard and its outer islands are the welcoming points for the majority of our cruise ship visitors.

There are more than 8,000 tourists when two ships are in port, this being ten times the number when one cruise ship would arrive in the early days of the Dockyard development.

With such large numbers of tourists, the introduction of enlarged, hard, landscaped pedestrian areas would be aesthetically pleasing and would reduce maintenance — which is a cost. Lawn areas are showing the strain of foot traffic, hence the need to change to pedestrian usage.

In heavily used pedestrian areas, usage of land is important and should fit the need of its existence; it should be visually pleasing, with low maintenance.

It is not the number of plants that make a landscape, but how you use the plants within the landscape; less, with a good selection of hardy material, is often more acceptable and accommodating to the area than an overplanted, labour-intensive design which requires more labour to keep the areas in visually acceptable condition.

It would also be nice to walk around the Black Bay and Royal Naval Dockyard areas which are still awaiting a clean-up from recent hurricanes. The longer they are untouched (in reality, until a plan is created), the more overgrown they will become and more the cost of refurbishment.

The numerous parks which dot the landscape around the island could be enhanced by more utilisation, which would be encouraged by the addition of street furniture — benches, tables, litter bins and, perhaps when appropriate, signage informing the reader of important features.

We are constantly told by the Bermuda Government that no money is available for maintenance, yet the landscape is part of our tourist platform.

It is a constant throughout the island and yet no one in the hierarchy seems able to produce a plan that will start to create visually acceptable public landscape that becomes a must-see item on our guests' itineraries.

Leonardo da Vinci once said: “Simplicity is the ultimate form of sophistication.” Wise advice that we should perhaps digest. This may not be the last supper, but given our timeline to next year, it could be the last chance.

Neglected and overgrown: The Bermuda Railway Trail in Kyber Pass, Warwick needs some TLC. (Photograph by Blaire Simmons)
Neglected and overgrown: sections of the Railway Trail are regularly used for dumping and often need cutting back, our columnist writes (File photograph by Blaire Simmons)

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Published August 17, 2016 at 9:00 am (Updated August 17, 2016 at 9:23 am)

Bermuda’s beauty spots need some TLC

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